It's official: Stephen Sondheim's final musical will get a full production. Based on two films of Spanish-Mexican director Luis Buñuel and featuring a book by David Ives, the musical, now titled Here We Are, will play a limited Off-Broadway engagement at The Shed's Griffin Theater beginning in September, with dates to be announced. Tony winner Joe Mantello is directing.
Formerly titled Square One, the two act musical draws inspiration from the films The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) and The Exterminating Angel (1962), both set at surrealist dinner parties. The musical, Sondheim said, is about “trying to find a place to have dinner.” The first deals with interruptions to dinner, the second is about “people who have dinner and can’t leave,” which “is my cheerful view of the world today.”
The musical has been in the works since at least 2014 and was developed by The Public Theater in 2016. In 2021, The New York Times reported that Sondheim and Ives had abandoned the project, but conflicting reports in the months after reported that the pair was not done with the idea. Sondheim died in 2021, with the musical unfinished. It is unclear if additional writers have been brought on to complete the score.
Tony winner Michael Cerveris, who had been part of the 2016 Public Theater workshop, told the Times that while the first act of the musical was nearly complete, the second was “sketched out, but still awaiting much of the music.”
“It was an appropriately surreal, unnerving, and often hilarious piece,” he added. “And Steve was, as ever, experimenting with some fascinating, complex musical structures which David’s sensibilities seemed to suit really well, I thought.…The marriage with Buñuel felt pretty right for the times, and the world has only gotten darker and weirder since then. I’d have loved to see it come to be. But then, I will always want more Sondheim in the world.”
A Broadway run of the work was spuriously announced on Twitter in 2022, a move that turned out to be a prank reportedly aimed at a TikTok creator known for speciously reporting "theatre news" based on anonymous and unconfirmed gossip.
The real and confirmed world premiere Off-Broadway run will be produced by Tom Kirdahy, with Sue Wagner, John Johnson, and Jillian Robbins executive producing. The Shed is co-presenting.
Ticket information and casting will be announced in the coming weeks. This is the second Sondheim show that will play in NYC in September. The Broadway revival of Merrily We Roll Along, starring Jonathan Groff, Lindsay Mendez, and Daniel Radcliffe, recently announced it will begin performances September 19 for an 18-week run.